Counting BrickHouse Books one writer at a time

By: Shelby Hillers

Thanks to VIDA: Women In Literary Arts, I’ve become alarmingly aware of the gender representation of published writers. Ever since the organization took on the project of counting the rates of publications between women and men, the publishing world has been faced with a harsh truth: men are published more than women. We’re still trying to fix it.

The organization started their project in 2010 and each year they count how many men are published versus how many females in major literary journals and magazines. You can view the results on their website along with charts to really hit you in the gut with the unequal gender representations.

Not every magazine is as bad. Some (like Tin House) became extremely aware of their gender gap and fixed it. Others made amends to fix the gender ratio but claimed it had nothing to do with VIDA’s project. Either way, they’re heading in the appropriate direction of proving that both females and males can be published writers.

The Count project does have some restrictions. When it comes to sex versus gender, The Count can get a little iffy. Writers who identify as a different gender or transgender writers weren’t sure where they stood with the limited options of the project. The representation of genders within the project might not have been so equal. It all comes back to what’s in a name. In a past blog article, it was discussed the significance of a writer’s chosen name. A point made in the article was how gender neutral names are perhaps the safest when it comes to marketing. But then what identity does that give the author?

That problem came up while I counted the genders of published writers for BrickHouse Books. Some name were easy and some weren’t. Of course there’s the help of Google but one writer was particularly hard: M.S Montgomery. After several searches, I emailed Clarinda Harriss and learned who M.S Montgomery is. Montgomery is BrickHouse Books’ only self-designated bisexual poet and identifies as male. I’m not saying a writer’s name needs to shout out their sexuality and gender. But having gender-neutral names to appease public is a double-edged sword. You don’t get trapped into gender-specific norms of the publishing world but you lose a sense of identity in the process.

Still, I wanted to model after the project to have a representation of the gender equality with BrickHouse Books. As shown above, we’re almost equal. There have been 19 females published and 21 males. This might be the first time where counting and making graphs made me happy. While it doesn’t get into the specifics, it still shows equal representation. It’s a huge encouragement to young writers out there that they do stand a chance and to keep trying.



Shelby Hillers is the Online Assistant Editor for BrickHouse Books where she helps manage Facebook, Twitter, and the blog. She is a senior at Towson University majoring in English and minoring in Creative Writing. Her works have been published by The TowerlightLimerence Magazine, and TU Career Center’s co-written blog The Thriving Tiger

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